Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Is All of Life Worship?

Although many believers in Methodist, Lutheran, and Anglican traditions might find the Reformed articulation of the Regulative Principle of Worship (whatever elements of public worship that are not biblically mandated are therefore prohibited) rather stifling, Professor John Frame sees the RPW as not being strict enough. He writes:
"But when you think about it, the regulative principle is not limited to worship services. It is God’s regulative principle for all areas of human life.... How do we find out how to glorify God in all of life? The same way we find out how to glorify God in worship: we consult His Word. So the sufficiency of Scripture is for all of life, not merely for one segment of it" (A Fresh Look at the Regulative Principle, 1).
So according to Frame, the RPW's jurisdiction should be expanded to cover "all of life" (from which "worship" shouldn’t be separated in the first place).

But as T. David Gordon has pointed out in response to Frame, the reason why the RPW was initially formulated was to answer the question about the limits of ecceliastical power (a question Frame fails to address):

"The issue was not... 'worship' versus 'the rest of life,' but those aspects of life governed by the church officers versus those aspects of life not governed by the church officers.... Frame's attempt to put 'all of life' under one umbrella... is doomed to futility, because it does not address the very issue the regulative principle was designed to address, the limits of church power and the liberty of conscience."
So here's my question: Ought we to distinguish between the sacred and the secular so as to limit the church's jurisdiction to what we may and may not do in worship? And if not, should we either A). Give the church's officers power to dictate all of life as strictly as they do worship, or B). Allow them to govern worship as loosely as they do all of life?